United Steelworkers Local 6115 Vote Unanimously for Strike Authorization

Negotiations from both sides will resume on Thursday in Pittsburgh.

VIRGINIA, Minn. – A crucial vote for the members of the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 6115.

The group in Virginia is demanding an increase in their wages and better benefits.

One member told me as recently as 2015 they took some concessions like wage freezes since the company wasn’t doing so well.

Now that they are, members want an increase in their pension and healthcare to stay the same or improve.

Just off the road  near ArcelorMittal in Virginia there’s a sea of signs and one may stick out to some the most.

Members of the USW Local 6115 say they are fed up with what they’ve been going through with the company.

“Basically take a pay cut by cutting our medical, our pensions and our securities on the job like overtime pay, vacation pay,” Local 6115 President Harold Anderson.

With a lot at stake, a strike authorization vote will determine the next steps.

“The company has been dragging their feet,” said Anderson. “They’ve been delaying getting us information that we need to make a comprehensive proposal and the counter proposal to theirs.”

Negotiations from both sides will resume on Thursday in Pittsburgh.

Local 6115 has just over 300 members and most of them showed up to the three meetings on Monday.

So far everyone was on the same page.

“They have my back and they know I’m not going to bring them back something that they didn’t earn and deserve,” said Anderson.

John Dickinson is part of the union and has worked at Minorca since 2006.

He remembers the last strike authorization vote 10 years ago.

“Nobody here wants a strike. we want to make an agreement and stay working,” said Dickinson. “We just want a fair share of the profits.”

The last contract between the union and ArcelorMittal was a three year deal that expired on Sept. 1.

Members are currently working on an extension for the prior three year contract.

There’s no strike as of yet, but members are prepared.

“We’ll stand in solidarity with each other and stand on the picket line if unfortunately it comes to that,” said Dickinson. “we’re all ready for it.”

On Sept. 12 ArcelorMittal released an update on where the negotiations stand.

Here’s the full statement:

While ArcelorMittal USA and the united steelworkers union continue to negotiate for a new collective bargaining agreement please do not allow the discussions to become a distraction in the workplace and at home.

We all realize the issues being negotiated are important to all of us and our families. That’s why it’s vitally important to utilize our safety systems by practicing shared vigilance, always looking out for each other’s safety, and using HIRAC-lites to identify potential risks and implement effective controls for the tasks you and your co-workers are performing.

By keeping our heads in the game and staying focused on the specific tasks and safety requirements associated with these tasks, we can continue to avoid serious injuries or fatalities. At the end of each shift, our goal for every employee is that you return home safely to your families.”

“We’re not only fighting for our good jobs. we’re fighting for the community, because if it wasn’t for mining on the iron range, what would happen to the iron range?” said Anderson.

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